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The handicraft tradition of Mallorca is rich in variety and products. Some products have become iconic symbols of the island, such as leather goods and shoes, the so-called “teles de llengües” (tongue-patterned cloth) or the siurell, a white clay figure painted in green and red stripes. It is without doubt the most popular souvenir of the island.
The siurell is just a small part of the large production of pottery made in Mallorca. The origins of Mallorcan pottery are lost in time. Its appearance in Mallorca dates back to the Talaiotic period. Nowadays most of the potteries are located in the towns of Pòrtol and sa Cabaneta, both in the municipality of Marratxí. They are famous for their pots and “greixoneres” (casseroles), brown dishes and “pitxers” (wine jars). They are made from bright red clay, which is characteristic of this area situated in the interior of the island.
Cloth making has a long tradition in Mallorca, especially “roba de llengües”, a typical Mallorcan fabric with the same longish print design on both sides, and handmade embroidery. The latter was introduced in Mallorca in the mid 19th century by orders of nuns. At present this handicraft has been resumed in the towns where it was most deeply rooted. The most typical embroidery techniques are Mallorcan point, chain stitch, connected stitch and cross stitch. They are printed on linen or cloth to decorate table linen, sheets and table clothes, among many other items.
Another handicraft has launched the city of Inca onto the international stage. We are talking, of course, about the important shoemaking tradition. Its origins date back to the 13th century. The shoemaking trade became so important that in 1370, during the Kingdom of Mallorca, the Honourable Shoemakers’ Guild was legalized. The first plaited shoes were made in the guild workshops. It was a real novelty for the period. With time the workshops grew into the most exclusive shoe firms. They are renowned worldwide for their top quality and innovative designs.
Glassblowing products are also very typical of the island. They date back to the 2nd century BCE. Nowadays there are several factories where you can see the glassmiths at work. Using only tongs and a blowpipe they form all kinds of unique and extremely beautiful objects. Even though there are just very few goldsmiths left in Mallorca, the trade enjoyed a time of splendour in the past. From this period you can find very peculiar objects such as the “cordoncillo”, flat gold rings mounted crosswise in twos; and the silver or gold buttons that rich women wore on the sleeves of the typical peasant’s dress. The highly prized pearls made in Manacor are a more present-day product of the goldsmith’s trade. They are made from marine organic matter and are famous across the world. Manacor also stands out for its carpenter’s workshops. Among them, you can still find workshops that make traditional Mallorcan handcrafted wood furniture.
Iron and steel handicrafts are also a tradition in Mallorca, especially the tradition of knife making. It is found in Consell, Llucmajor, Muro and Sineu. Lutherie is a trade that had fallen into disuse but has gathered momentum over the past years. Local luthiers make handmade Mallorcan folk instruments, such as the “flabiol” (whistle), “xeremies” (bagpipe) and “tamborins” (very small drums). Palm handicrafts made with the dry leaves of the European fan palm should not go unmentioned in an introduction to Mallorcan handicrafts. The European fan palm (Chamaerops humilis) is the only palm native to Europe. This handicraft is known in Mallorca as “obra de llatra” and is very traditional trade in Artà and Capdepera. The cooperative La Protectora was created in Capdepera in 1899. Six years afterwards it was renamed La Palmera. It was the first and only cooperative that was formed to market palm products. Nowadays a wide range of articles are made using this raw material, from baskets and hats to saddlebags and backpacks, among many other accessories.
2 COMMENTS ABOUT OF THIS THEME
Hola a todos soy de Bulgaria pero vivo en Mallorca ya 5 años. Ahora mismo estoy acabando mi carrera universitaria de turismo en Holanda y tengo que escribir tesis. Me gustaría escribir de estas figuras - siurells pero es muy difícil encontrar información. Me gustaría saber donde puedo encontrar información sobre este tema. saludos
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